Catherine Llera

Mentor: Dr. Valerie DeLeon
College of Anthropology
"I originally got involved with undergraduate research to gain experience in the field of genetics. Since then, my academic interests have changed. Nonetheless, I have continued to do research because I enjoy trying to find answers to novel questions and never really knowing for certain what the results of a particular project are going to be. "


Biology and Anthropology



Research Interests

  • Paleoanthropology
  • Forensic Anthropology
  • Biostatistics

Academic Awards

  • University Scholars Program 2016
  • HSF Scholar 2016
  • NSF IRES Fellowship 2016
  • Bright Futures Scholarship Recepient 2013-2017


  • American Association of Physical Anthropologists
  • UF Biological Anthropology Journal Club


  • C.A. Pound Human Identification Laboratory Volunteer
  • Cancer and Genetics Research Complex Volunteer

Hobbies and Interests

  • Traveling
  • Eating Chocolate
  • Dancing

Research Description

Pattern of Ossification in Tarsals Reflects Locomotor Specialization in Primates
This study aims to compare patterns of tarsal ossification in perinatal primates. Using MicroCT scans from specimens in behaviorally and phylogenetically distinct primate taxa including but not limited to: Lemur, Hapalemeur, Eulemur, Cheirogaleus, Propithecus, Nyctecebus, Loris, Galago, Galagoides, Tarsius, Aotus, Callicebus, and Saguinus. The skeletal elements of the specimens were reconstructed using Amira. Primary results showed that the galagos and tarsier, both small bodied vertical clingers and leapers, had remarkable ossification of the navicular and calcaneus at birth, and the talus was present as a globular ossification center. Additionally, the tarsier showed minimal ossification of the cuboid, but no other tarsals were present in neither of the specimens. All other primates analyzed exhibited significant ossification of the calcaneus, and the talus was once again present as a globular ossification center. Further analysis and more data must be collected to make an inference and explain this phenomena. Nonetheless, the early onset of ossification of navicular and calcaneus seems to be a mechanism that underwent parallel evolution in these two groups; the ancestral condition being the pattern of ossification exhibited by the other set of primates examined. joint) for the locomotor behavior. Overall the study can provide evidence about the different rates and timing of ossification in tarsals and carpals as a mechanism for locomotor specialization and enhances importance of ontogeny when interpreting skeletal indicators of behavior.